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Drunk driving has Lodi’s Emily Marino MADD

Marino volunteers in honor of her brother, killed by drunk driver

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Posted: Thursday, September 6, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:45 am, Thu Sep 6, 2012.

Erich Hans Taeger was 22 years old when he went out bar hopping with friends one night in March 2000.

A member of the Army National Guard, Taeger and friends were blowing off some steam before a deployment to Bosnia. His commanding officer designated a driver, but the group split up as they moved to different bars and Taeger was left without a sober ride home.

Cory Ortiz, a 27-year-old soldier from Ohio, had a few beers in him, but said he was fine to drive. He wasn't.

"We've all said it. We've all done it," said Emily Marino, Taeger's sister. "When I see my children, and I'm out on the road, it's all I can think about. I don't want anyone else to go through what my parents are still going through."

Ortiz fell asleep at the wheel. The car veered across the road to wrap around a tree trunk. Taeger, in the passenger seat, was pinned against the tree and killed instantly. Ortiz died in a nearby hospital two days later.

That was 12 years ago. Today, Marino is a tireless champion for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a national group dedicated to stopping drunk driving and supporting the victims of drunk drivers. Marino has volunteered for three years now. She would have joined earlier, but she thought she had to be a mom to qualify, so she waited until her daughters were born, she said. Marino later found out motherhood is not a requirement to volunteer for MADD.

She speaks on victim impact panels in Stockton and Sacramento, and gives student presentations at Sacramento and Galt high schools. Marino also goes out to DUI checkpoints with police officers to hand out pamphlets and talk to drivers.

Marino tries to avoid statistics when she's giving a presentation. All of those people have names, families and stories, she said.

She is the captain of Team Erich Hans, a fundraising team gearing up for the annual Walk Like MADD 5K event in Sacramento, coming up in October. Right now, the focus is on a silent auction. Local businesses and individuals have made donations to themed baskets that will be auctioned off at Marino's MADD booth at the Lodi Grape Festival.

"I do it because I get to talk about it. People don't know how to react," she said. Volunteering and giving presentations is an outlet for Marino to keep her brother's memory alive.

Taeger loved the military, and always planned to follow in his father and grandfather's footsteps. He planned to work at a military journalist while deployed overseas.

Today, Taeger would be 35 years old. Instead of a birthday card, Marino has a photo of his grave marker that she takes to her presentations.

"I should have another sister-in-law. He should know my kids. I should know his kids. But I don't," she said. "I want people to fully grasp the consequences."

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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2 comments:

  • Emily Marino posted at 1:04 pm on Thu, Sep 13, 2012.

    emilyismadd Posts: 1

    Robert - wow - was this really the place to post your comment? You shouldn't say you empathize with me and then say "but" kinda defeats the purpose of empathizing. I understand your frustration and it meets my frustration as well - I hope you never lose someone in a horrible crash and then have someone downplay that in a snarky comment.

     
  • Robert Jacobs posted at 8:46 am on Wed, Sep 12, 2012.

    Robert Jacobs Posts: 298

    I can certainly empathize with this woman, but I would ask her how many times she has driven, and people she rides with in a vehicle follow the person in front of them at speeds of 60, 70, and even 80 and above miles per hours two or three car lengths behind the car or pickup in front of them? Tailgating is the reason most people have fender benders, deaths, etc... other than driving too fast for conditions.

    The fact is almost all drivers in this country cannot drive! Firstly, they are thinking of everything and anything except for what they should be thinking about which is driving! Secondly, most think they are Mario Andriette and can drive that car or pickup at breakneck speeds around corners and such... They can't and you can't! Most of you cannot even keep that vehicle inside that 12 foot wide lane!

    Add alcohol to this and you have a no win for sure! But even without alcohol or any mind altering substance people have no clue what they are doing on this nations freeways in those vehicles!

    I drive a big truck (perfect record for over twenty years, (which doesn't make me perfect just attentive to what I'm doing) and I've watched you people in your cars, driving too fast, cutting in front of other people, throwing things from your vehicles at other vehicles, cutting across four lanes of traffic to get to that exit, following too close (so close you couldn't even change lanes if the person stopped in front of you) driving too fast for conditions, reading, texting, talking on the phone, putting on makeup, looking back at the kids in the back seat, flipping off someone who you think slighted you, pulling in front of a big truck and driving too close and (they need at least 300 feet to stop at speeds of 55mph) slowing way down in front of a big truck going 55mph pulling 80,000lbs to get in the next lane to get to your exit! When a big truck puts his or her blinker on you people will break you neck to get along side of him or her rather than letting them move over and then going around them. You will fight with a big truck because you are morons!

    No one addresses this, I watch it all from the far right lane almost every day. We have a nation of idiots driving on our roads!

    Yeah we have more problems with drivers other than just drunk drivers! Most drivers drive like the are impaired without ever drinking or using any mind altering substance....

    And those of you who do these things know who you are!

     

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